writing under constraint
For Fernando Pessoa, as for the roughly 600 texts that make up his Book of Disquiet, and the estimated 136 heteronyms that Pessoa inhabits in his own writing, there "is life, and there is writing, and they must remain immiscible." Richard Zenith's attentive biography of Pessoa succeeds, in the words of Portuguese literary scholar Manuel Portela, in "forming a homogeneous mixture" when all of the names and textual experiences are brought together in a single, biographical narrative.
In “Better with the Purpose In: or, the Focus of Writing to Reach All of Your Audience,” Deena Larsen responds in a riPOSTe to Hannah Ackerman’s essay on sound elements in electronic literature, “Better with the Sound On” (ebr October 2021). Larsen approaches Ackerman’s essay from the position of a “dual writer” in exposition and exploration, exploring the question of audience in e-lit, particularly the imagined audience as one that is able-bodied and who may have specific embodied experiences of literature. In order to explore “multiple audiences with the same message,” including by tapping into multiple senses, Larsen draws upon Kate Pullinger’s work Letter to an Unknown Soldier and Amira Hanafi’s A Dictionary of the Revolution.
With a focus on sound elements in the e-literary, Hannah Ackermans (University of Bergen, Norway) insightfully traces the role of accessibility and (dis)ability in electronic literature. Problematizing the universality of electronic literature practices and rewriting the familiar concepts (such as defamiliarization or constraint), she uses the notion of accessibility as a perspective that both proposes inclusive models of electronic literature and helps to understand creative work on a fundamental, material level.
In response to Mencia, Pold, and Portela, Belgian poet and scholar Jan Baetans suggests that we might view the field of trans-medial literature as an offshoot of translation studies (and not the reverse). In any case, whether we approach e-lit from a medial or linguistic standpoint, scholars do well to observe a "merger of translation and adaptation studies."
Maria Damon reviews Alan Sondheim's Writing Under: Selections from the Internet Text in light of the literature of John Fahey to demonstrate that those texts, like her performative review of them, enact a "mastering/dismantling itch twitch" that has a "life of its own, moving through the artist in a parasitic way."
Abish's Alphabetical Africa is pondered here, in a critifiction by Louis Bury. Bury's text is written - like the novel itself - under constraint: each critical query begins with a new letter of the alphabet. Culminating in "Zeugma," the essay explores the poetics of Abish's linguistic experiment from somewhere close to the inside. (Doug Nufer's Negativeland gets a similar - though more subtle - treatment in another Bury piece.)
Examining Doug Nufer's Negativeland, a constraint-based text, Louis Bury adopts the same constraint as the novel - an approach NOT dissimilar to his treatment of Abish's Alphabetical Africa. In this case, the constraint is a prohibition against sentences lacking "some form of negation" - a commitment not unlike the affirmation of negativity.
Kiki Benzon and Mark Z. Danielewski discuss his 2006 book Only Revolutions at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.
Pinocchio’s Piccolo, or, How Tristram Shandy Got It Straight: Searching in Raymond Federman’s Body Shards
Michael Wutz writes of how, in Raymond Federman's My Body in Nine Parts, body parts are represented as having registered, inscribed, contributed to Federman's life.